Story by Sean Smith

During the first week of August, I had the tremendous opportunity to travel to Chicago and attend the second annual Wordcamp for Publishers Conference at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. This smaller spinoff of the larger Wordcamp conferences focused specifically on the newsroom application of WordPress and how it can be used as a powerful publishing tool.

I was excited to attend this conference, so I could really dive deep into one of the most widely used publishing platforms on the web, having taught students how to manage both and full, self-hosted WordPress sites during my first year as a graduate assistant.

What I realized is I still have much to learn about WordPress and its capabilities as a publishing tool. Luckily, I was familiar enough to understand the various topics presented at the conference. But from a development standpoint, there are so many things one can do with this platform.

WordPress is capable of hosting the simplest student websites we create in Fundamentals of Online and Digital Media to handling the 50 million monthly unique visitors of USA Today’s sports section and beyond.

One of my favorite workshops was hosted by Joshua Wold, who demonstrated a high-level, universally-applicable approach to sketching ideas with pen and paper before moving into prototyping and developing. I’m extremely excited to apply these concepts to the section of Web Design and Publishing I’m teaching this fall, where I want to have students produce several sketches of their website designs, both visual and functional.

Presentations at Wordcamp

Another panel I attended that was particularly enlightening covered using a special WordPress plugin to access content from your site and apply it to Adobe InDesign layouts for print and Oculus Go virtual reality environments. The live demo showed someone updating their blog and having that post appear on a newspaper in the VR environment which the viewer could pick up and read.

I was thrilled to see the concepts I’ve learned over the past year in practice at this leading professional conference. Nearly every panel discussed how WordPress is a digital product that requires developers and product managers to maintain, and how these teams need seamless integration with the more-traditional newsroom staff.

Thanks to the organizers of Wordcamp for Publishers for selecting me as a scholarship recipient. Without their support, I wouldn’t have been able to attend this fantastic conference.

I’m excited to start keep learning and bring back many of the things I learned in Chicago to our program at Texas State.